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Double trouble

New Flames defenceman Brad Ference, shown at his Calgary home yesterday, is happy to join the club...

New Flames defenceman Brad Ference, shown at his Calgary home yesterday, is happy to join the club and play with his blueliner 'cousin' Andrew. (Calgary Sun/Stuart Dryden)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Brad Ference knows the question will come. Repeatedly.

The Calgary-born defenceman, who signed a free-agent contract with the Flames yesterday, knows he'll often be asked if he's related to Flames teammate Andrew Ference.

(The answer is no.)

"He calls me Cousin Brad and I call him Cousin Andrew," Ference said. "We might as well call each other that because everybody thinks we are."

One day, the Flames might ice a defence corps with two Ferences and two Regehrs, Robyn and Richie.

Being part of the Flames organization is a dream come true, Ference said.

"What a thrill," he said.

"Growing up, you always dream about playing for the Flames, so it's pretty cool for everybody in my family. There are big things expected of this team and it would be nice to be a part of it."

Ference -- drafted in the first round, 10th overall, by Vancouver in 1997 -- inked a one-year, two-way deal with a NHL salary of $450,000.

An unrestricted free agent after the New Jersey Devils didn't give him a qualifying offer, Ference was hoping for just a chance to get back in the NHL.

A veteran of 245 NHL games, in which he's amassed four goals, 30 assists and 563 penalty minutes, Ference languished in the AHL during the 2005-06 season, starting with the Phoenix Coyotes farm team in San Antonio before being traded to the Devils organization midway through the campaign.

"Spending all last season in the minors, it's tough to ask for a one-way deal and I'm fine with that," said the 6-ft. 3-in., 218-lb. defenceman.

"There's an opportunity for me here to get to play in the NHL.

"There's a spot open and I have a shot at it."

The Flames roster is set as far as its top six defenceman, which means Ference will be battling with Richie Regehr and Marc Giordano for the No. 7 spot.

"I've got experience in the NHL and I hope that plays in my favour. I'll go into camp and work for a job. I want to get my foot in the door and earn a spot," he said.

Besides, Ference, 27, believes he hasn't plateaued in his career and meeting incoming Flames coach Jim Playfair has him convinced he will take another step.

"He said, 'I know you will be a better defenceman' and that's appealing to me because I'm not done. I'm still a young defenceman at 27," he said.


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